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A PAMPHLET

 to expound the

LAWS and PARTICULARS

of the

 Ancient Game

 of

NURDLES

Written by Timotheus Seal Esq

 and humbly dedicated to

 the Most Excellent Earl of Ancaster

 MDCLXIV

 1664

 

Printed by John Thomas Esq

St Paul’s Churchyard

 

History

Even in the Classical Times reference is made to games of skill wherein the contestants threw a coin or small token into a hole or other target and our ancestors certainly played the game in the reign of Henry the Fourth, as History of this Country recounts.

Although a familiar game is undoubtedly played in other parts of the Kingdom; it is in Rutland that Nurdles has most commonly been played until out-lawed by the Puritan disposition of the late Lord Protector Cromwell. Now that King Charles has been restored to his rightful Throne we can once again play this ancient and honourable game. The Laws of the County of Rutland are given in this pamphlet but in other divers parts of the Kingdom they may be different. Players should always acquaint themselves with the Laws of the localities in which they play, left others may take advantage of their small knowledge.

Principles of the Game

Firstly, it if recommended that all Players drink at least a quart of strong ale before the Game. This helps the Player get in his eye. Should a Woman* be permitted to play – against polite custom – they are recommended to drink small beer, lest they become witless and talk too much. Each Player shall have thirteen coins or tokens which should be thrown at the target hole or pit. It should be the intention to place as many in the hole as he can. Players must determine a place where they all shall stand. It is customary that a coin be tossed to determine who shall have the choice of playing first. It is recommended that the winner of the toss so does as it shall bestow on him an ADVANTAGE.

The first Player attempts a score, by throwing thirteen coins at the hole. A score shall be kept to denote the number of coins (if there be any) that he placed in the hole, deducted from the number thirteen. This shall be the number of coins he shall throe at his next turn.

 

The next Player shall then play in similar fashion and his score noted. The game continues until all Players have thrown thirteen coins at which time the first Player throes the remaining number of coins which he has left from the thirteen he had originally. It will be noted that this is the number denoted on the score. Each Player continues in this manner until one of them has no coins left to throe. This person shall be declared the WINNER or VICTOR LUDORUM NURDLEL.

Laws of the Game

1. No player must on any account place his foot IN FRONT of the place where it was agreed that all should stand to throe, nor even UPON IT. It is suggested this place be denoted by a line or cord on the Ground so it is plain to see, even for the poorest sited player, or one confused by strong drink. If a Player is seen to violate this Law another Player should cry FOOTE FAULTE **.

(i) If the offending Player has thrown any coins into the hole they shall not be counted. (ii) If he has not thrown any into the hole he may continue to play after he has moved his foot to the correct placement behind the line or cord. 2. Players most not throe any more coins than thirteen at the commencement nor more than the number on the score from their previous turn. If a Player shall throe too many he shall be DEBARRED from further play. 3. A Player must obey the Order of Play.

4. If more than one game be played, then the loser (or losing side if it be a team game) shall commence the succeeding game. This is marked by the cry MUGS AWAY. It may also be deemed seemly to start the order of play in a team in a contrary or reverse order so that all players in a team may throw a goodly number of coins. This is known as Reverse Order. Previously, those unfamiliar with the diverse custom of this Game have heard the cry MUGS AWAY – REVERS ORDER and found themselves confused. Now by this pamphlet may they be enlightened.

 

Customs of Play

The Customs of Play should not be confused with the Laws but a sound knowledge of them will help the Player with some of the more curious aspects of this ancient game. It may happen that some Gentlemen will decide upon a FRIENDLY GAYME and chose to dispense with some of the formal LAWS. The most notable and commonly observed of these are printed here.

Coin behind the Lyne – whereby a coin which bounces back towards the Player may be played again should it come to rest behind the line or cord. Pay heed however that this amendment should NOT BE OBSERVED on Lady Day, Michaelmas or All Hallows Eve or else a fine of three farthings shall be payed to the Vicar of the Parish.

Also, the Law concerning the throwing of too many coins is often amended so that the offending Player is not debarred but can continue to play. However, any coins that have been thrown after he has thrown the rightful number and which have gone into the hole, are not counted in the score. This amendment is not to be observed on Saints Days or Holy Days or else a fine of one penny shall be payed to the oldest person in the parish as alms ***. Any means of distracting the Player is lawful EXCEPT standing in front of him, touching his person or divesting of garments during his turn of play. Verbal distractions are commended and should be encouraged for the entertainment of all those present.

There is a public house of a low kind, known as the Whyte Horse or commonly known as the Jackson Stopps, which is situate in a poor place called Stretton in Rutland, a curious version

of the game which has been played in former times. This is known as Hats wherein a Player who has not scored is obliged to wear a hat – or choice of hats usually of quaint styles -kept for this purpose. The Player must wear this hat during play until another Player has not achieved a score – when the hat is passed to that latest Player who has not achieved a score. It is a curious feature that a Player wearing a hat may not finish the game even though he may throw his last coin in the hole, thus rendering him the winner under other circumstances.

Special Laws or Amendments may be observed on Friday nights and Saturday nights and Sunday between the hours of twelve no one and four of the clock. Also, special dispensations of other kinds may be made on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Thursday is a day of special observance of amendments pertaining to Lady Day, Michaelmas and All Hallows Eve, unless any of these days fall upon a Thursday, when they apply anyway. Finally the Editors decision if finale.

Amen

Timotheus Seal